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Will Stanford and Silicon Valley Transform Education? : The New Yorker

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Whew, I got through all 8 pages.

This, to me, is the key insight / question:

Online education might also disrupt everything that distinguishes Stanford. Could a student on a video prompter have coffee with a venture capitalist? Could one become a T-student through Web chat? Stanford has been aligned with Silicon Valley and its culture of disruption. Now Hennessy and Stanford have to seriously contemplate whether more efficiency is synonymous with a better education.

Times are changing. Will Stanford adapt?

I agree. I think this heads us down the path to an inevitable question: How much of a college degree is signaling intelligence to employers and how much of it is truly about learning?

Right now with the interwebz anyone can get a great education for free online. You can watch iTunes U until your eyes bleed. Granted, you might lack expensive technical resources if you're in the hard sciences, etc, etc but given that tuition at Stanford and its peers now costs ~40k a year I'm sure many of these gaps could be filled more cheaply by any student smart and resourceful enough to get admitted to an Ivy-tier institution.

I'm not recommending this to the average 18 year old. But if you're sharp enough to get into Stanford I'll bet you could take 160k over four years and design yourself a earthshakingly impressive educational experience filled with travel, internships, networking, online courses, accelerated private tutoring and maybe even a startup as your thesis project.

So as free educational resources from the best universities in the world sprout up left and right and as tuitions grow astronomically high, for the smartest kids in the world there will be no avoiding the question: are you paying to learn or are you paying for a brand name?

I think that represents a huge opportunity for someone to design an alternative curriculum of life experiences.

I remember reading about a campus-free university that requires students live in a different city every semester, but I forget where I read about that.

I believe this is the / DevBootcamp model.

Granted, kids don't really need to pay $40k/year for college education.

U of Florida in-state tuition is $4k/year.

Penn State is the highest at $16k/year in-state.

Therefore a student might expect to get a four-year degree for anywhere from $20k-$64k; unfortunately, most end up paying $8-$10k/year in room & board -- especially if provided by the school.

Tuition at PSU has risen about 400% in the past 20 years; much this due to a nuclear-arms race mentality among universities competing for the top talent.

People don't change until the pain of staying the same is greater than the cost of change; I believe that moment is coming in the next decade.

Schools use room and board to double the student's costs, eh?

Basically; at least for state-related institutions. While many people -- including myself -- find a real problem with the cost of higher education, schools have an ultimate trump card:

International students.

With the continued rise of the BRIC nations -- and all the rest -- there will be more and more global students more than willing to pay $40k/year out-of-state tuition + room/board.

The supply/demand curve at the moment, is in favor of the universities and not the students.

So the current system won't break anytime soon?

Some would argue it's already broken -- but increasingly so for American students, and increasingly less for everybody else.

That is why I compare education to healthcare; amazing for those who can afford it, not so great for everybody else. A big difference is people who originally think/thought they could subsidize education now with future earnings are often in a crunch while attending college or post-graduation.

When Zach and I were doing tuition stuff at Penn State, I think the number we found was that 1/7 drop out of college because they can no longer continue to afford to attend.

One out of every seven students.

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